10 Tools for Kitchen Cleanup

With reliable tools, maintaining a clean kitchen won’t feel like such a chore.

For some people, keeping the kitchen tidy comes naturally. For others, not so much. No matter where you fall on the tidiness spectrum, having test kitchen–approved cleaning tools can help. Our editors have spent countless hours creating awful messes with the express goal of evaluating how well various products cleaned them up. We’ve found some standouts. Our favorite under-appliance duster is a game changer, removing dust and debris from the tight spaces under appliances such as the stove and refrigerator. Our top-rated dustpan and brush set easily cleans up small kitchen messes with a quick sweep. Read on to find out more about our top-rated tools for keeping your kitchen clean.

—Carolyn Grillo, Senior Editor, ATK Reviews

This dustpan and brush set did a great job of cleaning up all the messes we set before it. Its long brush was generously packed with sturdy plastic bristles, making it easy to cover lots of ground quickly and to scrub little caked-on bits on the floor when needed. The bristles slanted forward at the tip, so we could easily reach into tight spaces for cleaning. And the brush handle was comfortable to hold, even for lengthier cleanup sessions. One small quibble: While the dustpan’s tall walls made it spacious enough to contain plenty of debris, it had a relatively small opening, so we had to aim a little more carefully when sweeping than with other models.

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This brush aced every category with ease: No stain could withstand its stiff bristles, it rinsed clean with minimal effort thanks to its well-spaced bristle clusters, its silicone-coated handle was comfortable to grip, and its handle curved optimally to give it good leverage for scrubbing. It also had a strip of ultrastiff bristles on the back of its head meant for the toughest messes that beat out every scraper in the lineup. Though its handle was a touch long for some testers, this brush easily outperformed its competition.

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This brush had an ideally sized brush head—neither too short nor too long—with bristles that were just under 1 inch long and optimally positioned on both the brush head's sides and tip, allowing us to effectively scrub most containers we tried. The rigid handle had a large, rubber-coated grip that made it comfortable to hold. One tester said this brush was “remarkably easy to rinse” and “seems clean and non-icky,” but it's also dishwasher-safe for even simpler cleaning.

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This product looks like the classic blue sponge we've all used, but its plastic-based scrubbing side has ripples. These ripples added texture, which helped nudge off cooked-on food. This sponge was absorbent and durable, and it looked surprisingly clean at the end of testing. It was also our preferred size: thick enough to hold comfortably but small enough to maneuver in tight spaces.

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We appreciated the foot pedal on this model, which flips the lid open completely and allows it to close slowly when released, as well as its sleek but spacious frame. But our new favorite does more than just meet all our basic requirements for a trash can; its additional features show impressive attention to detail. Among them: a fingerprint-proof stainless-steel exterior, a lightweight liner that can be slid out completely for cleaning or lifted onto an interior rest for easy bag changes, air vents that prevent air bubbles from forming around the bag, and a small switch that can be easily flipped to keep the lid open for extended tasks. It also remained virtually odor-free after sitting for a weekend with raw onion, tuna fish, and hard-cooked eggs inside. Although Simplehuman manufactures custom “size Q” bags, we found that any standard 13-gallon bag will work.

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Very easy to set up and fill, with a large transparent body that lets you see how much soap it contains at a glance, this model was reliable and dispensed soap quickly. A volume dial lets you adjust the amount of soap it dispenses, which can range from a tiny dot of less than 1 gram of soap to a heaping 6 grams. It uses four AA batteries, which are not included. We liked that the battery chamber is in the column behind the dispenser rather than underneath, so it won’t get wet (which causes batteries to corrode and leak). We also liked that the device’s grippy silicone base sat securely and didn’t threaten to topple or slide, even on a wet countertop near the sink. Random motions near and beneath the spout do not easily trigger spurts of soap; you have to deliberately hold your hand underneath, and then it dispenses soap in less than 1 second. It performed consistently throughout testing, and its generous 17-ounce soap chamber needed no refilling after nearly two months of frequent daily use. 

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We liked that this model was light enough to maneuver easily but heavy enough to assist with scrubbing. Its sprayer was the most powerful by far; it was capable of reaching three times as far as the other models, depending on how hard we pulled the trigger. Its head swiveled not only horizontally but also vertically, which allowed us to easily flip the double-sided mopping pad as we mopped. This meant we got double the scrubbing surface area, and the machine-washable pads were plush and twice as absorbent as those from the next best model we tested. They also clung to dirt particles better than other pads, though they required extra time to install since they slipped over the mop head rather than attaching to the bottom of it.

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This model excelled during every test: It was easy to assemble; it scrubbed up dirt, mud, pet hair, coffee, and stuck-on food spills with ease; and it was incredibly absorbent yet lightweight and nimble. We were particularly impressed by the bucket’s wringing mechanism, which rapidly spun the mop head with the push of a pedal and removed a remarkable amount of water, leaving the mop head nearly dry. We also liked the mop’s relatively long handle and wide, flat head, which was easy to remove and machine washable.

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